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Reducing Costs in Precarious Times February 14, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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It’s no secret that we need to do more with less at work, given the financial mess the world is in. I’ve recently taken several steps at work to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of our department’s offerings, and I thought it would be a good topic to discuss this week. Below are a few of my ideas. Please chime in with your ideas by adding a comment.

Ideas for Reducing Costs

Go to fewer conferences (or none at all)
I chose to not go to the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering in March (even though I was approved to go). I’m bummed about this, because I’ve learned a ton at this conference in the past, but I think it’s the right decision. I may try to make it to DevLearn later in the year depending on how things go.

Use free / open-source tools
Our team is doing more with free tools and open-source systems. Specifically, we are using WordPress, MediaWiki, and Scuttle. There are tons of great tools out there for free, so make sure to do your homework before purchasing any software/systems. Take a look at Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning Tools if you’re not sure where to start.

Build more from scratch
Build what you need from scratch, rather than always considering a vendor for a particular solution. This may be a course, a web site, an application to serve information to your learners, etc. Home-grown prototypes may not be as flashy as vendor solutions, but they often do the trick. You can also consider partnering with other groups within your organization if you need help building something (see the next section).

Create partnerships
Look for allies and discuss your projects together. As cliche as it sounds, look for synergies. You may find a contact in your IT department who is willing to help you create the systems you need. Or, you may find a peer outside of your organization who has similar interests and goals. You may find ways to work together and save money. Seek out these partnerships – and offer your help to others as well.

Negotiate with vendors
Both new and existing contracts can be negotiated during times like these. Make sure you talk things over with your organization’s legal department first, but I’m willing to bet you can (re)negotiate better deals with your LMS vendor, content providers, etc. I’m sure a bunch of them are giving me the evil eye right now for saying this, but I look at it this way: During times like these, I would rather renegotiate a deal at a lower price – and continue to use a vendor – rather than drop them completely. They have to understand.

Use social networks
Stay up to date on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Build relationships, connect with peers, and I believe you’ll be very pleased with the results. You may find that you’re able to do more research once you are better connected with peers (rather than always having to pay for expensive research reports). Plus, I find that my social networks help me keep my finger on the pulse of our field, and ithey have helped me meet some very smart (and extraordinarily helpful) people.

Stay sharp
Don’t freak out because of the recession/depression and crawl into a hole. Look for ways to continue to improve your skills. It benefits your organization if you keep up on the latest tips, technologies, and trends. Most information related to our industry is freely available on the web, so dig in, and keep reading and sharing information.

Your Turn!

What are you doing to save money at your organization?

Comments»

1. Jeff Goldman - February 14, 2009

My tips:

If you are buying “off the shelf” courses, request customizations ONLY if absolutely necessary or see if you can customize the courses yourself.

Telecommute! I can think of very few jobs that are more suited for telecommuting than e-Learning. Aside the occassional meeting that requires being face to face, I do not need to be on location. It not only saves the company money, but saves me gas and keeps me from arriving stressed due to beltway traffic.

Provide a guide, or tips and tricks, to being a SME at your organization. This may reduce time and streamline the process of working with SMEs. It may also improve all stages of your e-learning process or ADDIE, depending how involved your SMEs are in each stage of the process.

2. stranger - February 15, 2009

we’re going paperless🙂

3. Making the most of a shoestring training budget | Workplace Learning Today - February 16, 2009

[…] Reducing Costs in Precarious Times | eLearning Weekly | B.J. Schone | 14 February 2009 […]

4. E-Learning Tyro - February 17, 2009

Hello Schone,

Thanks for an interesting post. I have recently launched a Web site for e-learning professionals. Through one of the section titled ‘Planet’s Pick’, I select my favourite bloggers and blog posts on a weekly basis. Its my pleasure to select this post as my favourite blog post of the previous week ending Feb 15, 09. Please find additional details in the following URl:
http://elearningplanet.com/?page_id=11

Have a good day. Expecting more innovative and useful information in your blog…..

Regards,
E-Learning Tyro

5. Steve Bogle - February 17, 2009

We are looking at expanding our synchronous training capability by pushing “live video” broadcasts. We do a lot of new product training, and our travel budgets have been cut. So I am trying to re-create the face to face interactivity that we normally have in our classroom setting. We are looking at Web-Ex’s video capabilities as a corporate solution, however, I am having better results using Adobe Flash Media Encoder http://www.adobe.com/products/flashmediaserver/flashmediaencoder/ but that is just my techie side speaking. Trouble we are having is getting the trainers used to this type of delivery.

6. Jeff - February 18, 2009

Hmm… well your first two ideas won’t work for us. I haven’t been to a conference in years and my company is apparently terrified of free tools.

We are doing all the other ideas you listed, though the social networking is extremely limited. We’re also severely cutting back on ILT sessions, and trying to transition them as much as possible to distance methods – primarily self-paced, but not always.

One thing we’re finding is that management seems to be more open in this environment to thinking about alternate ways to approach training, so we’re able to make more headway faster than we were previously. That’s a bit of a silver lining.

7. Rob - February 19, 2009

I’m not usually a person that would take the time to reply on a blog but that post was very well done.

Bob Doyle
Shelf Companies Inc

8. Anna - March 12, 2009

At Coggno.com we’ve been discussing the ways that educators can help students develop 21st century skills using Web 2.0 technologies.

It’s important during the recession to fight the predictions made by newspapers ranging from the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/weekinreview/08zernike.html?_r=1) to Bad Idea (http://www.badidea.co.uk/2009/03/recession-youth-or-generation-omg-are-losing-jobs-starting-uni/):

“This generation is going to be, they say, like a wifi-enabled version of the ‘Silent Generation’, a term coined by Time magazine to describe people born during the Great Depression. They were characterised by a lack of zeal to accomplish the gung-ho stuff their parents had.”

During an economic crisis, we should be creative in encouraging students to think big and creatively. Integrating the collaborative use of Web 2.0 technologies is one way to help students develop the skills necessary for building a better future.

9. Dulce M Ballesteros - April 11, 2009

Hi Schone, Hi everyone!

I couldn’t agree more with Anna. In times of crisis our best resource is creativity. Students should be encouraged first to dream big, think big and think outside the box; there’s always a plan C.

Concerning tips to save resources, there are two points that no organization should disregard:

1- Having 360° Quality Scheme: Everyone in the organization will be entitled to detect flaws, defects, obstacles or possible improvements in every area. This will help improve the efficiency of all areas… and efficiency has always been a synonym of saving all kinds of resources!

2- In-company training: Take full advantage of the valuable people you have in your company. Profit from the knowledge gained after all those years of experience. Benefit from natural talents. Have people share their strategies. Encourage them to organise their knowledge and train their partners. This may not only help junior staff but also improve communication inside each area. Even new ideas may come up if knowledge is shared in the context of a workshop! … Some of those ideas can be priceless.

I hope people keep contributing with more fresh tips
Cheers!

Dulce M Ballesteros
EFL Teacher


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